clear
Friday July 31st, 2015 1:09AM

Postseason here we come: Braves clinch playoff spot with win

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to put the Atlanta Braves back in the playoffs with a 4-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

Freeman's dramatic drive off Mike Dunn clinched at least a National League wild-card berth for the Braves, who squandered a big lead in the wild-card race with a huge collapse last September.

Longtime star Chipper Jones, who plans to retire at the end of the season, led off the ninth with a double. He moved to third on a wild pitch by Dunn (0-3) and scored when Freeman's 22nd homer easily cleared the center-field wall.

"There was never any doubt," Jones said during the clubhouse celebration. "We knew that last year was somewhat of a fluke."

Craig Kimbrel (3-1) worked a scoreless inning to help the Braves win their 22nd straight game started by Kris Medlen. The streak is the longest in the majors since the New York Yankees won 22 consecutive games started by Whitey Ford in 1950 and `53.

Returning to the postseason helps wipe away some of last season's frustration for the Braves, who blew an 8 1/2-game lead in the wild-card standings and finished September 9-18. They missed the playoffs after one of the biggest collapses in baseball history.

This year, Atlanta cruised most of the way and wrapped up a postseason spot with more than a week to spare. And the Braves still have a chance to catch first-place Washington in the NL East. They moved within four games of the Nationals, who lost to Philadelphia 6-3, with eight to play.

"We are shooting for the stars," Jones said. "It makes it all worth it. I'm happier for these guys because they worked hard."

While he was being interviewed on television, the 40-year-old slugger was doused with bubbly and beer by teammates in a jubilant clubhouse.

"I am so cold right now!" he said.

Four of the five NL playoff spots are secured. In addition to Atlanta, Washington, Cincinnati and San Francisco have all punched their tickets to the postseason.

The second-place Braves have a comfortable cushion in the wild-card race, and St. Louis leads the chase for the league's second wild card.

The Braves, who will return to the postseason for the first time since 2010, have relied on Kimbrel, an emerging Cy Young Award candidate, while other youngsters like Jason Heyward and Freeman have emerged as productive everyday players.

Leadoff hitter Michael Bourn struggled in the second half, but still ranks third in the majors with 39 stolen bases.

Jones went 1 for 2 with two runs and a sacrifice fly that made it 1-all in the second. He is batting .296 and has 14 homers with 63 RBIs. His leadership has been unmistakable in a season that included a final All-Star appearance.

The Braves tied it 1-all in the second. Jones walked, moved to second on Freeman's single and scored from second on Dan Uggla's single.

After Martin Prado's two-out triple in the third, Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi struck out Heyward, but Heyward tripled with one out in the sixth and scored on Jones' sacrifice fly to give the Braves a 2-1 lead.

Eovaldi was trying to win for the first time in six starts. He allowed four hits, two runs and two walks in six innings. He struck out eight.

A.J. Ramos got the first two outs for Miami in the seventh before Dan Jennings struck out pinch-hitter Jeff Baker with a runner on first. Heath Bell faced the minimum in the eighth for the Marlins, and Eric O'Flaherty did the same in the bottom half of the inning for Atlanta.

Donovan Solano hit his first career homer in the second to make it 1-0 and followed with a two-run shot in the seventh to make it 3-2.

Medlen did not win for the first time in nine starts, allowing five hits, three runs, no walks and striking out eight. The right-hander began the game with a 15-0 record over his last 27 starts dating to May 31, 2009.

-- NOTES: Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said MRI results on Bourn's left thumb revealed no structural damage. Gonzalez hopes Bourn can return to the lineup Wednesday. ... Reed Johnson started in CF and hit leadoff for Bourn. ... Gonzalez spoke with Jones before the game and both decided that the 3B wants to start the last six remaining regular-season home games. ... Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said RF Giancarlo Stanton, who has missed the last six games with a sore left ribcage, is lobbying to return to the lineup soon. Stanton took batting practice before the game. ... The Marlins were waiting for MRI results on OF Justin Ruggiano, who's been out since last Friday with a right shoulder sprain. ... Atlanta SS Paul Janish is trying to rehab his left shoulder in hopes of returning for the division series next month if Atlanta is still playing.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 2 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 2 years ago )
Sports
Williams, Horford pace Hawks past Indiana
Lou Williams had 21 points and a career-high 12 assists, Al Horford added 20 points and the Atlanta Hawks won their fourth straight, 109-100 over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.
10:19PM ( 2 years ago )
Gwinnett wallops Greenville, 6-2
Five different Gladiators racked up multiple points, as Gwinnett dominated the Greenville Road Warriors 6-2 Saturday night at the BI-LO Center to move into a tie atop the South Division with Greenville.
10:05PM ( 2 years ago )
Teague leads Hawks past Cavaliers, 102-94
Jeff Teague scored a career-high 27 points and the Atlanta Hawks scored the game's final nine points to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-94 on Friday night.
10:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Professional Sports
Lawsuit accuses CVS of overcharging for generic drugs
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — CVS Health Corp. deliberately overcharged some pharmacy customers for generic drugs by submitting claims to their insurance companies at inflated prices, according to a lawsuit fi...
9:47PM ( 3 hours ago )
Atlanta Hawks player arrested after brief Banks County chase
An Atlanta Hawks player faces felony drug charges after the vehicle he was riding in ran from Banks County deputies about 9 a.m. Thursday.
6:02PM ( 7 hours ago )
Banks County sheriff details credit union armed robbery
Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed is releasing more details of the armed robbery of a Homer credit union at 10:20 a.m. Thursday.
4:53PM ( 8 hours ago )
Clermont Councilwoman Lynn Adams resigns
Clermont Town Clerk Sandra Helton said City Councilwoman Lynn Adams submitted her resignation to the city Thursday morning.
3:51PM ( 9 hours ago )
Supporters of Gainesville boy with rare disease to host blood drive
The family of a four-year-old Gainesville boy with a rare disease is hosting a blood drive and fundraiser to support medical needs and bills.
3:28PM ( 9 hours ago )